Greek PV market shrivels to just 6 MW per month

The alarming decline in PV installation in Greece accelerated in the last quarter with just 12 MW of new installations in August and September.

The dramatic decline prompted by the austerity-crippled Greek government’s attempts to grapple with a huge public Renewable Energy Sources (RES) fund deficit saw the 801 MW installed between January and the end of March shrivel to 153 MW in the second quarter.

And the latest figures released by Greek electricity market operator LAGIE yesterday, show only 36 MW were added to the nation’s cumulative 2.5 GW total in the third quarter. Of that figure, 24 MW arrived in July with only a further 6 MW in each of the following two months.

Of the third-quarter installations, 26 MW were from ground-mount projects and 10 MW from rooftops.

With the Greek government announcing plans to finance a new 660 MWe lignite power plant, renewables investors are holding fire on their plans, citing a lack of policy certainty.

Greece’s solar market is vanishing

The Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO) has repeatedly warned the Greek government that, under its strict measures, the domestic solar PV market is vanishing and thousands of jobs are being lost.

With Italian energy company ENEL recently purchasing licenses to develop 102.5 MW of solar PV in Greece, there is still an appetite for investment by foreign companies but solar market watchers have told pv magazine policy insecurity from the Greek government is hampering such investment.

The Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA) has talked of attempts to set a ‘new deal’ between renewables producers and the state to further cut project FITs in exchange for benefits such as longer PPAs, but details are thin on the ground.

RES deficit has reached €500 million

YPEKA must reduce the deficit of LAGIE’s RES fund, which is used to pay renewable energy producers. According to LAGIE’s report, the fund deficit reached €500 million (US$672 million) at the end of September, up from €326 million in January.

Lobby group HELAPCO said, in an open letter to YPEKA’s deputy minister, that according to a joint study with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the further development of the Greek PV pipeline does not require huge LAGIE-funded subsidies because the new FITs are particularly low and the savings from reducing the cost of the supply of electricity are high.

Meanwhile, the Greek national electricity company, the Public Power Corporation (PPC), announced in September it has signed a €739 million bond loan with a consortium of foreign banks.

Manolis Hatzakis, head of relations with the markets at PPC’s directory for investor relations and finance, told pv magazine: "The sum will be used to partially finance the construction of lignite station Ptolemaida V, which will have a 660MWe installed power capacity and a total budget of €1.4 billion."

PPC announced the 15-year loan has an annual cost of around 5% and is supported by the German export credit insurance scheme managed by Euler Hermes.